Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Nov. 2 that USDA is investing $2.5 billion in rural electric infrastructure improvements to help create jobs and support economic development in 27 states, including Oklahoma and Texas.
“These significant investments will help develop and maintain modern, reliable electric infrastructure that businesses and rural communities need in a 21st Century economy,” Perdue said. “The loans I am announcing today will help utilities and cooperatives build new transmission and distribution lines, upgrade networks and facilities, and better manage the power grid.”
The funding will support infrastructure improvements in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The loans are being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Electric Program, which is the successor to the Rural Electrification Administration.
“We are extremely pleased that USDA is making such a major investment in rural development and infrastructure through new loans to America’s electric cooperatives,” said Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “USDA is an important partner helping us illuminate rural America and empower the communities we serve. That partnership is critical to co-ops’ ability to maintain, expand and improve rural electric infrastructure.”
Smart grid includes technological enhancements such as metering, substation automation, computer applications, two-way communications and geospatial information systems to help utilities increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power systems. The loans include $127 million for smart grid projects.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; homeownership; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.